X3 Master Volume
This is the main volume for everything. It is kind of like the master fader on a mixer. It controls the outputs of your X3 including the headphone jack. Master Volume has no effect on tone. Line 6 recommend running this as high as possible and this is a good idea from a theoretical standpoint to minimize your background noise. My all tube monster of a Mesa Boogie power amp into a 4×12 can’t be turned up past about 40% without incinerating most drummers though, so I tend to run this control around half. This allows me to crank the Boogie up a tad more and have fine control over its output.
Master Volume Summary: Controls output of all presets at once. Set it as loud as possible for your particular gear setup. Does not affect tone. Not saved in your presets.
X3 Tone Volume
This control is mostly for balancing between tone 1 and tone 2. It is tempting for long time POD users to think of this as Channel Volume but it isn’t. More about that in the next section. I always start this control at 80% when tweaking patches. This is loud enough to be useful but gives me plenty of room to adjust up or down. If I am making a single tone (not a blend) then I just leave it at 80%. For a blend I will tweak tone 1 and then turn this down to 0% while tweaking tone 2 at 80%. Once in the ballpark for tweaking each tone I will keep tone 2 at 80% and go back to tone 1. Now I bring tone 1 up slowly until it matches the mix of tones I’m looking for. You can swap back and forth between the tones, adjusting their Tone Volume until you get the dual tone blend you are looking for. Tone Volume is applied post amp modeling so it does not affect the sonic character of your patch. It just makes it louder or softer.
Tone Volume Summary: Controls volume level of tone 1 and tone 2 individually. Generally better to have this in the upper half of its range (50-100). Saved with each preset.
X3 Channel Volume
This is where you do the real balancing between your tones. You can get them roughed in based on Tone Volume but with lots of dual tones, this is where the magic happens. The reasons a lot of seasoned POD users think of Tone Volume as the old Channel Volume is because the control is in the same place physically and in the signal chain, and the new Channel Volume is not labeled in any way. Channel Volume is shown on the lower right corner of the X3 home screen. In Figure 1 below it shows 0.0dB just below and to the right of the VERB block. This control is adjusted with the fourth multi-function knob under the display. Channel Volume is a clean boost/cut and does not affect the sonic character of your patch.
Choose a patch to be your base patch for volume reference. Play a bit and switch to one of your other patches. If the other patch is louder or quieter, use the Channel Volume to give it a slight cut or boost accordingly. Keep flipping between the patches until you get them about equal in volume. Follow the same procedure with your other patches but always start with the base patch you chose. This base patch should be what you use as the volume reference for all your other tones.
Channel Volume Summary: Controls patch volume (tone 1 and tone 2 together). Generally better to have this close to zero. Saved with each preset.
There are not any hard and fast rules about volume balancing and what type of tone you are using. Some clean tones cut through the mix much better than some crunch tones. Sometimes it is the other way around. The only way to tell is to see how your tones are cutting through in your band rehearsals and soundchecks. Sometimes you don’t want to have the patches of equal volume. I usually even out the volume and then give my lead patches another three to six dB of boost so they will pop through the mix just a bit more.
Additionally, don’t get crazy trying to balance the volume of every patch in your X3. You will go bonkers and spend more time volume balancing than playing. Balance the small set of patches you will use at each gig. When I’m playing at home or just making patches for fun, I don’t worry about them being equal in volume at all. If one is too quiet or too loud, I just reach for the Master Volume knob or the volume pedal.
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